Though tonka absolute is very soothing to the skin, it is especially sought after for its sweet and comforting aroma.
The tall camaru tree (Dipteryx odorata) belongs to the legume family (Fabaceae) and grows in Costa Rica, Brazil and Peru. It bears fruits that contain a single seed, oblong and smooth, called the tonka bean.
Some will quickly say that tonka smells of vanilla, but the bean has its own perfume. It is sweet, but also fruity, reminiscent of cherries and bitter almonds, and has notes of hay. This complex scent is mainly due to coumarin, an aromatic compound that naturally occurs in tonka, in such quantities that it creates a white crystallized coating around the bean when it dries.
Lush buys tonka beans directly from Kayapo communities of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. They pick up fallen fruits and break them one by one with a hammer to release the precious beans. Dried in the sun and gathered in big bags, they are then sent to France, where they are transformed into an absolute.